NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2023
Oddsmakers don’t favor the Golden Knights’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champs, Valeri Nichushkin is expected to rejoin the Avalanche, the latest notable draft news and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee headlines.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Oddsmakers aren’t bullish on the Golden Knights’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Vegas Insider has the Colorado Avalanche as the favorite to win the Cup in 2024 while the Golden Knights have the sixth-best odds, tied with the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You don’t need oddsmakers to tell you how difficult it is in today’s NHL to repeat as Stanley Cup champions or for a defending champ to return to the Final.
Since 1990, only three teams – the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991 and 1992, 2016 and 2017), Detroit Red Wings (1997 and 1998) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2020 and 2021) repeated as Cup champions.
The Penguins and Red Wings faced off in the 2008 and 2009 Finals, with the Wings winning in 2008 and the Penguins the following season.
The Lightning reached the Final in three straight years (2020 to 2022), becoming the first team to do so since the Edmonton Oilers (1983 to 1985).
THE DENVER POST: Sources claim Valeri Nichushkin is expected to rejoin the Colorado Avalanche for 2023-24. The 28-year-old winger left the team before Game 3 of the Avalanche’s first-round series against the Seattle Kraken following an incident involving an intoxicated woman in his Seattle hotel room.
There was no criminal investigation of the incident and Nichushkin is not being investigated by the league. The winger has been out of sight since returning to Denver following the incident while the Avalanche have declined to comment.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nichushkin and the Avalanche will have to face questions from the media about this incident at some point before the start of next season. It remains to be seen how forthcoming they’ll be about this situation.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen admitted he’s received several calls from clubs wondering if he’s willing to trade his first-round pick (third overall) in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft.
Kekalainen said none of the offers he’s received have convinced him to part with the pick. “I’m 99.9 percent sure that we won’t be trading the pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were also reports last week of the Montreal Canadiens contacting the Anaheim Ducks (second overall) and San Jose Sharks (fourth overall) to gauge their willingness to trade their picks. Perhaps they were among those who contacted Kekalainen about his pick.
One of those clubs could be convinced to move their selection for the right price. Given how rarely those picks are traded, however, I’ll be surprised if any of them are moved between now and the opening round on June 28.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Russian prospect Matvei Michkov avoided meeting with NHL teams and didn’t meet with them after KHL games this season. A gifted offensive winger, the 18-year-old Michkov is considered among the top prospects in this year’s draft and could be among the top-five picks.
Kevin Allen writes that Michkov’s actions have prompted speculation that he’s trying to manipulate the selection process to get to a specific team.
Allen thinks he could be angling to be chosen by the Washington Capitals (eighth overall) for an opportunity to play with Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Michkov also didn’t attend the NHL Draft Combine earlier this month. His agent claims his client will be in attendance at the upcoming NHL Draft.
Rumored character issues plus his lengthy KHL contract could prompt some teams to skip on Michkov, possibly making him available to lower-seeded clubs in the first round.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery admitted he didn’t read his players well during their stunning first-round loss to the underdog Florida Panthers. After rewatching the games, Montgomery said he could tell that the Bruins weren’t anywhere close to playing with the same tempo as they did during their record-breaking regular season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Overconfidence plus injuries to some key players seemed to play a role in the Bruins’ demise against the determined Panthers. After setting the records for most wins (65) and points (135) in the regular season, Boston seemed to have Florida on the ropes after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald disputed the notion that he believes in a salary hierarchy. This comes after he re-signed winger Jesper Bratt to an eight-year extension with an average annual value of $7.87 million, coming in just under center Jack Hughes’ $8 million AAV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Timo Meier’s AAV on his next contract could be higher than Hughes’ if he and the Devils agree to a new deal.